Eater contributor Jess Hunter consulted industry folks and the Brewers Association's "Principals of Matching" for the ultimate beer and pizza pairing guide. Afterall, beer goes well with pizza, and grease is good for booze.
Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House, Denver [Photo: Adam Larkey]
Rocky Balboa and Adrian Pennino. Bert and Ernie. Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk. Darryl Hall and John Oates. Much like the famous duos we know, pizza and beer rank among them. As Eater celebrates Pizza Week, it’s only natural for Denver to pay homage to its sidekick: beer. Not sure what to drink with more unique pizza flavors like kimchi and anchovies? There’s a beer for that. Consider the flavor profile of a beer. Is it sweet? Bitter? Spicy? Rich? Perhaps there's some carbonation. Or maybe it's really heavy. Sure, cheap beer works so well with shitty pizza, but what about beers and pizzas of the craftier variety? Here now, Eater’s guide for a variety of beer and pizza pairings, with some local craft beer suggestions included. Cheers!
White/Witbier: This style is light and fruity, with coriander, orange, and other spices. Try bringing out those spices with pepperoni, soppressata (Italian dry salami), garlic, green onions, or anything with coriander and cardamom.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Avery Brewing Company's White Rascal, New Belgium's Mothership Wit, Great Divide’s Samurai, Ska’s True Blonde Ale or Funkwerk’s White. Give Dry Dock’s U-Boat Hefeweizen a whirl, too.
Kölsch/German Lager: Kölsch is a well-balanced, clean and lightly hopped beer. Any German lager is going to rock with a simple, Margarita pizza.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Steamworks' Kölsch, Upslope's Craft Lager, Great Divide’s Nomad, Ska Brewing’s Mexican Logger or New Belgium’s Shift.
Pilsner (Czech): When you’re looking at a pilsner, specifically a Czech pilsner, it’s characteristically a spicy hop with the addition of the Czech hop, Saaz. The maltiness and bits of caramel will give this beer the opportunity to pair perfectly with many foods, including 'za. Look for something clean, clean, clean. Go for an original cheese; add tomatoes and spinach as toppings if you absolutely must.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Odell Double Pilsner, Joe’s Pilsner by Avery or Mama’s Little Yella Pils by Oskar Blues.
Cider: A curve ball, we admit. The crisp, effervescent flavor, combined with an edge of sweet with work perfectly with pizza. It cleanses the palate while adding the perfect plus to your pie. Go for something simple or sweet — you’ll want to play off the sweet/tart flavor in the beer.
Suggested Colorado Beers/Ciders: Colorado Cider Company (Grasshoppa!), or if Denver Beer Co has their awesome cider on draught, be sure to grab a growler of that.
Abbey Dubbel/Tripel: These beers accent pizzas with a yeast-forward characteristic. Play up the dough and flavors of white pizzas. With Belgian yeasts, enjoy multiple sensory notes: salt, sweet, spice, bitter.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Bristol’s Batch 6000 Dubbel, Left Hand’s St. Vrain Tripel, Upslope’s Third Nipple Tripel, or New Belgium’s Abbey or Tripel.
Belgian FarmhouseL Clean, crisp, dry and slightly fruit-forward — this beer works well with foods beyond pizza. Similarly to the Dubbel/Tripel pairing, the style works with the flavors in a white pizza. Give mushrooms a shot. The funky flavor of mushrooms may make some of the yeast work well, or it may bring out the crisp flavor. See what your tongue craves.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Great Divide’s Colette, Crooked Stave’s Surette or Funkwerks Saison.
Pale Ale: Pales are versatile ranging from golden to amber in color, and can sometimes have a bread, nut or caramel flavor. With pales, there's freedom to play with the pairing, and generally, the flavors will work.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Upslope’s Pale Ale, Odell’s St. Lupulin, Dale’s Pale Ale by Oskar Blues or Dry Dock’s Breakwater Pale Ale. For the slight Belgian kick, give Avery’s Karma a shot, too.
Indian Pale Ale: IPAs are characteristically hoppy and bitter beers. Play up the spice of Italian sausage, chili flakes, jalapenos with an IPA.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Avery’s DuganA IPA, Great Divide’s Titan IPA or Hercules, Ska’s Modus Hoperandi, Odell’s Myrcenary, Left Hand’s 400 Pound Monkey, Oskar Blues' Gubna or Breckenridge Brewery’s 471.
Amber/Red Ale: Amber Ales beg for meat. One of these will pair fabulously with a meat lover’s pizza.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Ska’s Pinstripe Red Ale and Dry Dock’s HMS VIctory Amber.
Sour & Wild-Fermented Ales: Whether its a lambic or a Flemish red, the wild yeast characteric in these beers can highlight atypical pizza flavors. If the beer is fruit-forward, play up the sweet and spiciness of a pizza. Curry, peppers and Italian sausages are complemented well by this beer style.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Avery’s Sour Series (Dihos Dactylion, Immitus, etc.), Odell’s Friek, Crooked Stave’s Wild Wild Brett Orange or New Belgium’s La Folie
Strong Ale: Pair big personality beers with big personality pizzas. Roasted and grilled or smoked meats will play well with strong ales.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Avery’s Salvation or Reverend, Great Divide’s Hades, Oskar Blues' HGH or Old Chub.
Barley Wine: Beers with weight beers pair well with pizzas with weight. If you have a funky cheese in your pizza, a barley wine may be the perfect complement.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Avery’s Hog Heaven, Great Divide’s Hibernation, Left Hand’s Widdershins or Boulder Beer’s Killer Penguin.
Porter: One of the most understated beer styles, porters are a great food beers. There’s a variety of flavors, from sweet to smokey. Consider a barbecue pizza paired it with a Baltic porter, bringing out the smoke.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Avery’s New World Porter, Odell’s Avant Peche Imperial Porter, Left Hand’s Smoke Jumper, Ska’s Ten Pin Porter, or Dry Dock’s Vanilla Porter.
Stout: Stouts play well with spicy and bold flavors, particularly with milk stouts. Go classic — dig into a deep dish.
Suggested Colorado Beers: Upslope’s Foreign Style Stout, Great Divide’s Yeti, Avery’s Out of Sight or Czar, Ska’s Stell Toe Stout, Oskar Blues’ Ten FIDY or Boulder Beer’s Obovoid.